Eyes to the Sky: A Super Blue Moon (and 2023's Largest Full Moon) Will Be Visible Down Under This Week
August's last full moon is both a supermoon and a blue moon — because it'll be at the the closest point to Earth in its elliptical orbit, and it's the second full moon this month.
August 28, 2023
The end of winter means warming temperatures, blooming flowers and summer inching closer. In 2023, it also means looking up. To close out August, a super blue moon will take to the sky — or a blue supermoon, if you prefer. Both terms fit, because the Earth's only natural satellite will serve up both a supermoon and a blue moon.
The date to point your eyes to the heavens: Thursday, August 31. Stare upwards with your own two eyes and you'll see a noteworthy sight — but it'll actually be at its peak that morning. Heading outdoors at 11.35 AEST is recommended; however, if you train your peepers towards the sky the evening before or afterwards, you'll still be in for a glowing show.
While super full moons aren't particularly rare — several usually happen each year — blue moons only happen every few years. Wondering why else you should check this one out? We've run through the details below.
WHAT IS IT?
If you're more familiar with The Mighty Boosh's take on the moon than actual lunar terms, here's what you need to know. As we all learned back in November 2016, a supermoon is a new moon or full moon that occurs when the moon reaches the closest point to Earth in its elliptical orbit, making it particularly bright. Again, they're not all that uncommon — and because the supermoon on Thursday, August 31 is a full moon (and not a new moon), it's called a super full moon.
A blue moon refers to the second full moon occurring in a calendar month. Despite the name, it isn't blue in colour. Also, despite the saying, they happen more often than you might think, but still only ever few years. The next monthly blue moon after this is set to occur at the end of May in 2026.
Normally, the August moon is also a sturgeon moon, too — and while that's the case in 2023 as always, that moon has already been and gone. That's what happens when there's two months in a month, with this year's sturgeon moon happening on Wednesday, August 2. The name, doesn't refer to its shape or any other physical characteristics, but to the time of year. In the northern hemisphere, August is around the time that sturgeon fish start to show up in big numbers in North America's lakes. Of course, that doesn't apply in the southern hemisphere, but the name still sticks.
WHEN CAN I SEE IT?
As mentioned above, the super blue moon will officially be at its peak at 11.35am AEST on Thursday, August 31, Down Under — but thankfully it will be visible from Wednesday night Australia and New Zealand time.
The moon does usually appear full for a few days each month, so you should find the night sky looking a little brighter this week anyway.
That 11.35am AEST time applies in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, with folks in Perth needing to look at 9.35am local time and people in Adelaide at 11.05am local time. In New Zealand, get peering at 1.35pm NZST.
WHERE CAN I SEE IT?
You can take a gander from your backyard or balcony, but the standard advice regarding looking at glowing sights in the sky always applies — so city-dwellers will want to get as far away from light pollution as possible to get the absolute best view.
Fancy checking it out online? The Virtual Telescope Project is set to stream the view from Rome at 1.30pm AEST on Thursday, August 31, too.
For more information about the super blue moon on Thursday, August 31, head to timeanddate.com.
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